CCRI’s New Education to Support the State’s Growing Land and Marine Industries

THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE of Rhode Island, in partnership with the Rhode Island Nursery & Landscape Association and the Rhode Island Food Policy Council, a new associate degree program to help create careers in the state’s land and marine industries. / COURTESY OF COMMUNITY COLLEGE OF RHODE ISLAND

WARWICK – A new federally funded associate degree program at the Community College of Rhode Island has been established to prepare students for careers in the state’s growing land and marine industries, including in the landscape, agriculture and food sectors .

The new Environment, Sustainability and Management Associate degree program at CCRI will be offered in conjunction with the Rhode Island Nursery & Landscape Association and the Rhode Island Food Policy Council. CCRI, RINLA and RIFPC jointly said fall classes will begin Aug. 31 and all Rhode Islanders who want to learn skills about how to address social, economic and environmental challenges through the land and marine sectors are encouraged to register.

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Shayna Cohen, senior consultant at Southold, NY-based firm Karen Karp & Partners, which helped RIFPC and RINLA create and implement the program, told Providence Business News on Friday that the program is supported by a three-year grant from $499,655 from the United States Department of Agriculture. National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The program, CCRI said, will combine science and business, provide work-based learning opportunities and position graduates to develop career paths and have an impact on social and environmental profiles of the companies they work for.

Cohen said the ideas to create the program came about because Rhode Island’s land and marine industries are “a significant part” of the Ocean State’s economy, both directly — agriculture, food processing, and landscape management — and indirectly, such as creating and maintaining open spaces. According to a 2017 RIFPC analysis, the state’s food cluster accounted for 69,357 jobs, or 17% of the state’s total private employment, Cohen said.

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RIFPC and RINLA also noted that after talks with employers between 2017 and 2022, growth within the food and agriculture sectors is expected to continue, Cohen said. However, she said RIFPC and RINLA said employers in these industries “have struggled for years” to fill a variety of jobs from entry-level to leadership roles, hence the need to create this new degree program at CCRI.

The new program will allow students to transfer as juniors to the related undergraduate programs of the University of Rhode Island College of the Environment and Life Sciences, CCRI said. CCRI graduates in Environment, Sustainability and Management will also have immediate career opportunities. Cohen confirmed that the program will partner with several local food, landscaping and agriculture companies that will agree to hire students for hands-on learning experiences. An employer list agreeing to work with the college is currently being finalized, she said.

In a statement, CCRI President Meghan L. Hughes said the new program is a “perfect example” of local industry and policy leaders working with higher education to create a pathway that “responds to labor market demands.” .

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After the scholarship ends, the program will be supported by enrollment from CCRI and other institutional assets, faculty and leadership, Cohen said. Enrollment and program information can be found on the CCRI website.

James Bessette is the editor of PBN’s special projects and also covers the non-profit and education sectors. You can reach him at [email protected] You can also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette

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